Syrian artist FadiaAfashe prepares forher exhibition at theLevantine CulturalCenter in LosAngeles. Herpaintings depict thepain and sufferingshe and those aroundher have experiencedduring therevolution, but “I stillsee the hope,” shesays in an interviewshortly before theopening of her show,“I RISE.”
Fadia studies herpainting, “UnderShelling,” whichdepicts regimeattacks on civilianneighborhoods, suchas the one in whichher parents reside.Fadia admits that ithas been difficult tostay safely in the USwhile the revolutionrages at home, butshe feels that she canbe a better advocatefor the Syrian peoplehere, where she cancommunicate moreopenly and reach awider audience.
“Touchable.” Fadia’sfriend, a 35-year-oldmother of two and acreative activist,disappeared inDecember 2011. Theregime has deniedthat they arrestedher. According toFadia, many Syrianartists—includingactors, writers,musicians, andcartoonists—havebecome public rolemodels for boldlyspeaking out againstthe regime.
“The Pianist.” Thefamous Syrian pianistMalek Jandali hascomposed songs insupport of therevolution, includinghis award-winningcomposition, “WataniAna” (“I Am MyHomeland”). As anAmerican citizen andresident, he remainsoutside of theregime’s reach, but inJuly 2011, Syriansecurity forcesbrutally beat hiselderly parents livingin Damascus,according to Jandali.
Fadia’s pain andsorrow after learningof a close relative’sarrest andinterrogation fueledher painting,“Interrogation” (left).She still fears for herfamily’s safety inDamascus andworries that hershow in LA couldmake them a targetfor retribution.However, she hasfound inspirationamong the youth ofher country.“Without them I[would] never beable to have thisexhibition,” she tellsme the day beforethe exhibition opens.
“Mother.” In theearly days of therevolution, Fadia meta mother inDamascus who hadseen her sontortured. The motherwas still in shock. ToFadia it seemed as ifthe mother wassimply going throughthe motions of life, asif she had no head.
“Black Hole.” Theregime stripped andimprisoned Fadia’s28-year-old friendafter she led apeacefuldemonstration inDamascus. Fadiaherself wasimprisoned shortlyafter the revolutionbegan. She wasreleased after amatter of hours, butto her it felt like days.
In Fadia’s “Can’t Be”(left), she and herhusband hold eachother to feel safe. Inher “Transformation”(right), Fadia sitsalone, realizing thather ideals give herthe power toovercomedictatorship. Despitethe hopelessness andfrustration she hasfelt as the conflictcontinues to take itstoll, she confides,“Syria will continue.We will get ourfreedom no matterwhat the price willbe.”
Michael Rood, aformer intern at theLevantine CulturalCenter, studiesFadia’s artwork ather show’s openingnight. Fadia hopesthat those who seeor buy her paintingswill spread the wordand support hercause: encouragingthe US to assist theSyrian opposition.
“His Soul.” Fadia’sfinal painting in the “IRISE” series portraysthe soul of herhusband’s cousinwho died fromtorture. Fadiaexplains that thispainting is a ferventcry to the world forhelp: “His soul [is]asking you to speakout for him... [He’ssaying], ‘I died forfreedom. What haveyou done?’”